Reject before you are rejected. This has been a rule of thumb for my
entire adult life entire life. Consequently, I maintain a perpetual state of social flight. At the same time, I desperately desire AUTHENTIC and RECIPROCAL human relationships. I desire–more than anything–to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, and to be accepted. I recently recognized this desire propelling the choice to maintain my blue hair color. I wondered aloud to my husband, “If I am keeping my hair blue because of a repressed desire to be seen, then does this mean I need to stop?” He generously reminded me that my desire to be seen, heard, understood, and accepted are all basic human desires–they are universal–existing within us all. With that said, I will continue to express my subjectivity through my style choices, without shame.
The truth is, the feeling of alienation and isolation is inherent to humanity. This is why kids are cruel. This is why families are dysfunctional. It’s because at a core level, within our subjectivity, exists an idea–a desire–to be united with *the other.* The consequences of this perceived disunity are plenty. In some cases, we envy *the other* because from our perspective he/she has achieved union. In some cases, we subjugate ourselves to the will of *the other* because we think that to do so will provide an opportunity for union. In the worst cases, we subdue *the other* so as to prevent his/her opportunity for union, thereby ensuring our own. Unfortunately, none of these methods will suffice. At our core, this emptiness–this division– will always exist. To be human is to undergo interminable conflict. Are you depressed yet?
Well, I’m not! To me, this is the most liberating idea of any I have encountered. This is because I don’t have to keep trying to fix myself. I don’t have to consider myself a puzzle with one missing piece. If only I could find that little missing piece, I could be happy/whole/healthy/lovable…No, I am a jumbled jigsaw because that is what I am meant to be. This discovery allows me to do whatever I want with the pieces. What do I want? I want to live a meaningful existence. How do I do this? I make peace with my imperfection. I make peace with the imperfections of others, and I stop trying to manipulate and control myself, those I love, and the whole world to find harmony. I can experience peace by embracing my own inner chaos.
I have walked away from many, many communities in my life–all because I didn’t think I fit. I mistakenly believed others felt confident as community members. I ran. I ran from Destrehan. I ran from ballet. I ran from church. I ran from ballet again. I ran from church again. I ran from one school (as a teacher) and another–and I never looked back. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it is necessary to avoid toxic relationships and some organizations have higher levels of toxicity than others, so it behooves one to run–and to do so swiftly with long strides. Nevertheless, I am ready–on psychological and emotional levels–to go home. I am ready to reintroduce myself to all of those people in the community I left behind–all the people I grew up with.
Therefore–Dear Destrehan, I am sorry I ran from you. I felt vulnerable–insecure. I held my peers responsible. But you aren’t responsible for my pain. All of us–we are ALL wounded animals. As kids, we ALL worked out our own respective traumas on each other. I thought I would forget you. I thought I could forge ahead into the future without a second glance, but you are still there. You are still in my memories, and not all of the memories are sour. Do you know, some of you inhabit my actual dreams? We shared experiences together. We grew up together. For as many of my old classmates that make regular appearances in my dreams (I am talking literal dreams where my subconscious pins images of your faces to my own repressed shit) I would bet I feature in some of yours, too.
For this reason, Destrehan, I would like to reintroduce myself to you. My name is Julie Morrow. You knew me as Julie Beck. I grew up with you. (I know you remember me). I currently reside in North Carolina, but your humid little riverside community will always be my hometown. I am still small, shy, quirky and introverted. I am still extremely sensitive (though you may not have even known that about me). I was awkward when you knew me. That is partly because: OCD, partly because: trauma, and partly because I just am. However, what made me awkward to you back then, in my opinion, makes me more endearing–more human–now. I am full of empathy, patience, tolerance, and heart. I am reflective. I readjust. I am brainy. (Still brainy). Creative. Artistic. Optimistic. I understand the pain you carry because I carry my very own. I want to know you. I want to see you, to hear you, to understand, and to accept. I was once a small piece of you. Metaphorically, I am coming home. Because Destrehan, you are a part of my story, and as such, you deserve an invitation to the journey ahead.